Isaiah Thomas was without a doubt the Celtics best offensive player last year. And it wasn't close. ESPN's Chris Forsberg provides proof of Thomas' offensive impact for the Celtics:
That Thomas is spearheading Boston's offensive attack should come as no surprise. The Celtics owned an offensive rating of 109.2 points per 100 possessions -- the best mark on the team -- when Thomas was on the court after his late-February arrival last season. Boston's rating dipped more than nine points per 100 possessions without him on the court in that span.
So it's not a surprise that early returns from training camp suggest that Isaiah Thomas is the focal point of the offense. The surprising thing is just how he's doing it.
#Celtics Brad Stevens heaps praise on Isaiah Thomas: he's been most effective offensive player, taken least amount of shots, says a lot.
The idea that Thomas is the most impactful player on the Celtics without taking many shots is intriguing. Thomas distributing the ball and being even more of a playmaker is a huge positive, as the Celtics' offensive sorely needs movement to create open looks. Outside of Thomas, no one on the Celtics can consistently create their own shot. Masslive's Jay King tracked down Jae Crowder and Brad Stevens, who had some interesting insights on Thomas the playmaker:
During training camp, Crowder said he has noticed a real change in Thomas' approach "because we came to a point last year where Cleveland took away his pick-and-roll and trapped him every time. So it made us adjust," Crowder explained. "I've talked to him about it, and our way of adjusting is him trying to find other guys and trying to make a play for him – not necessarily (him) making a play for us each and every time. So we're just trying to pick up where we left off last year with Cleveland making us adjust."
"He's playing very unselfish," Stevens said. "He's making the right read regardless of situation and he's not forcing anything. He really played great point guard on offense the whole time."
It's true, the Cavaliers ability to suffocate Thomas on the perimeter disrupted the Celtics offense throughout that series, and was probably the single biggest reason the Celts weren't able to steal a game in that series. On one hand, Thomas being more of a traditional point guard could really make the offense hum, on the other... are we sure that we want the ball out of Thomas' hands? Can anyone finish around the rim, get to the line, or stroke a three better than Thomas? Well, fear not. Thomas is still going to get his.
Isaiah Thomas took fewest shots through four days of practice. But: "If I can go get 40 I'm still gonna go get it."